Editor’s note: A version of this article appeared on Shep Hyken’s blog and is adapted here with permission.

Happy New Year! As we begin a new year, I’ve been thinking about what the biggest customer service trends during the past year or so — and what will be important for service leaders to consider moving forward. Here are five important trends to consider:

  1. Your customers are smarter than ever before. When it comes to customer service, they know the difference between good and bad service. They not only compare you to others in your industry, but also others outside of your industry. They see companies advertising how great their customer service is, the awards they are winning for the customer experience — and more. These expectations force companies to raise the ban on customer service and experience. (And that’s a good thing.)
  2. If you haven’t already done so, it’s time to have self-service customer service as an option. This isn’t limited to the companies that have call or support centers. It doesn’t matter what type of business you’re in, your customers will always have questions. Make it easy for them to find the FAQ section on your website. Post YouTube videos that answer questions that your customers might have.
  3. Social media and customer service belong together. I can’t believe how many companies don’t monitor the social media channels their customers hang out on. It is imperative that you watch, listen and respond to comments, both good and bad. Engaging with your customers on social channels is part of the customer experience. Don’t fight it. Take advantage of it.
  4. Smartphones are getting smarter and smarter. For some, the least important part of the smartphone is the phone. It is the device customers increasingly use to connect with your company. Mobile is an important step in customers’ buying process, so make sure you are “mobile-ready” and take advantage of the smartphone revolution.
  5. The handwritten thank you note will never lose relevance. Actually, it may be more relevant than ever. A good old-fashioned thank you note will make you stand out. Can’t write a note? Consider a thoughtful and personal email or text message. The operative words are thoughtful and personal. Don’t miss an opportunity to add a positive moment to your customers’ experience.

A version of this article by Shep Hyken appeared on his Customer Service Blog. You can read the full version here.